Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/633

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615
SOUTH SLAVIC MOON-MYTHS.

Such flattery as this encourages the glass-maker, in a double sense, to renew his efforts. It assures him of a continued demand, and also that his window-pane has fulfilled its highest function—in having been seen through, without being seen.

 

SOUTH SLAVIC MOON-MYTHS.
By Dr. FRIEDRICH S. KRAUSS.

THE South Slavic peoples have a number of popular songs reciting with many variations the theme of the wedding of the sun or the moon with the morning star or dawn. The relatives of these luminaries also play a part in the wedding processions, and appear variously as the nuptial dignitaries—Saint John, the thunderer Elias, and the holy Virgin Mary. The story runs along so plausibly that one can not tell by reasoning what is signified by the invocation of these higher beings; in other words, with all its clearness it is quite obscure. But the learned mythologist easily does away with all difficulties, and applies his artificial explanations with the greatest satisfaction. Parallels are easily drawn from Grecian, Roman, Indian, Germanic, or Lithuanian mythology, and the thing is done. The stereotyped conclusion of the mythologists is drawn to the effect that a people that entertains such speculations must have formerly had a high degree of culture, and have been of equal birth with the oldest civilized nations.

The answer to such talk is, that the stories of these sun and moon weddings have no support in the faith of the people, and are in no wise consonant with their other national and religious notions. Certain fables are indeed appealed to, that tell how the youth, in search of his ever-vanishing love, inquires in turn of the wind-mother, the sun-mother, and the moon-mother. But, to accept these in explanation, we have to pass off as specifically Slavic what is really and confessedly an all-world story, and in which there is, therefore, nothing significant of the South Slavic superstition.

It is not necessary to believe that there is any illusion in the matter. While the popular thinking is often illogical and takes poetry for truth, real misapprehension exists only among individuals, and the popular mind takes a fixed direction. Examination of the songs in which these moon-marriages are mentioned will show that they are exclusively lyrics or short songs, such as are sung by the processions at the bringing of the bride from the parental home, or which greet her as she enters the house of her spouse. The significance of the part played in them by the stars is explained by the popular custom of giving to the wedding-guests.